The best coloured gems for engagement rings are not necessarily just the most beautiful ones, but also the most durable ones. If you’re looking to buy an engagement ring that is not a white diamond, then this article is for you.
Before you shop, learn everything you need to know about the appearance, durability and price of the best coloured gems for engagement rings here.
1. Blue Sapphire
Blue sapphires have a breathtaking blue colour and are associated with royalty. They are especially popular because of the influence of Kate Middleton who wears the world’s most famous blue royal sapphire engagement ring. Due to their beauty, fame and durability, they’re considered the best coloured gems for engagement rings.
Durability – Sapphires rank 9 out of 10 on the Mohs Scale of mineral hardness. Only diamonds rank higher at 10. Therefore, sapphires make excellent, lasting gems for engagement rings.
Learn more about blue sapphires here.
2. Pink Sapphire
Pink sapphires may not be as popular as blue sapphires, but if you love coloured gems, they’re actually an exquisitely beautiful choice. Famously, Princess Eugenie of the British Royal Family has a pink padparadscha sapphire engagement ring. In fact, although most people think of sapphires as blue, they come in many different colours.
Learn more about pink sapphires here.
Emeralds are a showstopping and coveted engagement ring stone. Why? Because their unique inner glow is simply mesmerising to gaze at. They were, according to history, Queen Cleopatra’s gem of choice. Natural emeralds range from gorgeous dark greens to beautiful, light shades.
Durability – Emeralds rank 8 out of 10 in hardness, but their crystal structure makes them quite brittle and at risk of breaking if given a hard blow. So take special care of your ring and choose a robust precious metal setting that protects the gem.
Price – High-quality emeralds sell for a similar price to sapphires. However, it’s hard to find quality emeralds in larger carat sizes, so they can seem comparatively more expensive than sapphires.
Learn more about emeralds here.
Rubies make a dazzling, romantic statement in engagement rings thanks to their incredible pure red colour that symbolises love. Rubies are, in fact, formed from the same mineral as sapphires, called corundum. Red corundum is called “ruby”, and all other corundum colours are considered “sapphires”.
Durability – Ruby has the same hardness as sapphire. It ranks 9 out of 10, making it a lasting choice for engagement rings.
Price – Rubies are one of the most expensive gems in the world, with the highest quality rubies setting price records. However, you’ll be glad to know that you can buy a ruby engagement ring of a beautiful commercial quality roughly for the same price as a diamond ring.
Learn more about ruby here.
Tanzanite is the rarest gem in the world. Found only in one location in Tanzania, it is rarer than diamonds. Tanzanite is incredibly beautiful and unique because it exhibits pleochroism, which means that it shimmers in different blue and violet colours when viewed from varying angles.
Durability – Tanzanite is quite a soft gem ranking at 6-6.5 out of 10. This means that you have to take extra good care of it, and avoid knocking or scratching it. Make sure it’s in a very sturdy gold or platinum setting which provides robust protection for the gem.
Price – Even though tanzanite is much rarer than sapphire, it is more affordable because it is less known and it doesn’t have the durability of sapphires. Thanks to it’s beauty-price ratio, it one of the best coloured gems for engagement rings
Learn more about tanzanite here.
6. Blue Topaz
Blue topaz is a stunning, sky blue gem that is famous for its incredible translucence and clarity. It is much less popular than sapphires in engagement rings, perhaps because of its bright colour which is associated more with fashion jewellery. But its affordability and durability actually make it a fantastic option for engagement rings.
Durability – Topaz ranks 8 out of 10 for hardness. This is the same as emeralds, but where the emerald crystal is quite brittle by nature, blue topaz is far more resistant to breakage through knocks.
Price – Topaz has the lowest per-carat price of all the gems on this list. If you’re looking for a brightly coloured gem ring that is both affordable and durable, then you cannot really go wrong with blue topaz.
Learn more about blue topaz here.
Aquamarine exhibits a unique and alluring blue-green hue that brings an ocean-like beauty and sophisticated quality to engagement rings. In fact, for those looking for something that’s a little different from a diamond, but still quite understated in terms of colour, aquamarine is by far the best choice.
Durability – Aquamarines have a good level of hardness, at 7.5-8 out of 10. Thanks to their solid crystal structure, they have decent durability and don’t require special care or professional cleaning.
Price – Aquamarine gems with deep blue tones can be very pricey, and even the commercially sold lighter tones fetch much higher prices than blue topaz. However, compared to diamonds, you can get a decent-sized aquamarine for the same budget, so it’s overall the best diamond alternative out there.
Learn more about aquamarine here.
8. Yellow Diamonds
Yellow diamonds are a unique twist on traditional diamond engagement rings. Incredibly rare, valuable and beautiful, yellow diamonds have become a celebrity favourite and a status symbol over the last decade. Therefore they stand out from the crowd, symbolising luxury and glamour.
Durability – Yellow diamonds have a hardness of 10 out of 10, meaning that they resist scratches better than any other gemstone. This quality is, of course, paramount for a stone that is worn on the hand all day long for a lifetime.
Price – Yellow diamonds are rare and valuable, and therefore fetch higher prices than some commercial quality white diamonds. However, they are still more affordable than pink diamonds.
Learn more about coloured diamonds here.
Other gemstones for engagement rings
In theory, you could use any other gem with a reasonable level of hardness, like amethyst or pink tourmaline or garnet, for engagement rings. They are not as popular, well known or traditional as the eight gemstone listed above, but there’s no reason why you cannot choose them.
Why is gem hardness so important?
Bear in mind that engagement rings are worn on the hand every single night and day, so they may be subjected to many accidental scratches and knocks during a person’s lifetime. That’s why it’s sensible to buy the best quality ring you can afford, with the hardiest gemstone available. Read our article about gem hardness for more ideas on the best gems for engagement rings.
Conclusion – Which are the best coloured gems for engagement rings?
As with anything, the beauty of a gem is in the eye of the beholder. However, from a purely gemmological point of view, sapphires and rubies are the safest choices because of their durability. If you’re looking for something affordable and beautiful, go for blue topaz. On the other hand, aquamarine is a stunning, light-coloured alternative to diamonds. Finally, consider the symbolism of the gemstone, such as the wearer’s birthstone or your anniversary gem. Rest assured, whichever gem you choose, it will be much loved and cherished by its wearer.